My brother is on an FRC team, and I would like to make team buttons for competitions and such. Since I’m inexperienced with this whole idea, it would be great to get a couple of answers from some people who have done this before:
Do you make your buttons yourself (with a press/machine/etc.)? Or do you order them “pre-made”?
If you make them, what do you use to do so?
If you order them, where can I do this?
What kind of budget do you set?
How many do you make/order?
Any suggestions you can offer would be great. Thanks for your help!
We do happen to make our own buttons for promotional giveaways. Our promotions team in the last few years has invested in two machines to make the buttons by hand. The first machine is a simple die cutter that will cut out your printed paper blanks, the second is the actual button press. I don’t know the cost of the equipment off the top of my head but it can be well worth the investment if you compare the cost of buying them to making them (ex. $1.20(exaggeration):$0.17. The $0.17 is pretty close, the other number depends on the supplier). Once you have the equipment, the supplies to make the buttons can typically be found at an arts a crafts store and the printing can be done on any printer you have available.
As far as quantity goes if you make/order non game specific buttons you can run over on your number and use them next year. One of the advantages for making your own is buying the supplies in bulk and using them for custom buttons one season and storing the materials for future use. If you make them or order them plan to have enough made to cover all of the judges at a competition and at least one for every team at minimum.
They are rather time consuming to manufacture in bulk but it gives everyone something to do between competitions and during slow spots in the build season. It gives your promotions team another creative and artistic activity to participate in and can save your team money in the long run compared to buying them.
One such machine supplier is “badge-a-minit” (google it). They may not be the least expensive though, I have not done any research. Don’t only consider the machine price, but the supplies price as well because you’ll be using a LOT of that stuff.
Basically, we print the button on a color laser printer (several per page), cut out the circle using a circle cutter, then load into the button press: A clear cover, the paper (face down), a badge front, and a badge backer. Whack the press, and out pops a badge.
Our press spins 180 degrees, so while person A is loading one press hole, person B is whacking the press. Spin & repeat. Our is NOT a badge a minit product, their supplies were too costly.
We must have the same equipment as Don; the seems the same. We got our’s from Dr Don’s Buttons (not the same Don). Some of our buttons are printed on a color laser; some are photocopied on lime green paper.
We order ours…
Last year we ordered 1000 buttons and had a few left over for this year. I don’t remember the exact price since a parent from our team donated them, but I am sure they were not $1.20 each and we had 3" buttons.
This year, we ordered bracelets (similar to the Livestrong ones) that were $0.38 each - they were black/red marble with our team number embossed in them. We went through 1000 of them quickly, so I’d say they were a big hit.
Both items were ordered from a local supplier here in MI. I will provide you with info if you are interested.
One team at the WPI Regional had taken a small rectangle of 1/4’’ aluminum, rounded the edges and CNC’d both sides. One side said WPI Regional 2012, the other had the Rebound Rumble logo. They drilled a hole in it and stuck a keychain on it. I thought that was pretty cool! It’s on my keys
I wasnt very involved with my team’s button making (not a high priority if you ask me haha) but several members of my team made around 1,000 buttons with our button press, which took quite awhile, but at the end of the Seattle Cascade regional, they were all gone.
One thing you gotta remember is a great design for the button. I get buttons from every team possible but unique ones go up on a banner in my home. Be it the style of the button or some student hand drew a design on the button or just something epic, make sure your button stands out.
And a side bar as to why I keep a team button around, if you ever have a DVD drive on a computer that’s being problematic, you have yourself a pin that you can use to open up said drive.
This year we made 500 team logo buttons, and about 200-300 each of a few different “specialty” buttons. Our buttons are assembled by the Special Needs students at our school. We used 5 different designs, including “Where’s the Sharpie?” and our famous(?) “Honey Badger” button. At Orlando, the specialty buttons disappeared quickly (by Friday AM), and we had requests for them well into Saturday. At Palmetto, we scaled back to 2 specialty buttons and asked for donations for them to raise money for The American Red Cross. Happy to say we raised over $175 for this worthwhile charity.
Our team is a little different than most when it comes to team buttons. We use a laser cutter at our school to cut out and engrave CAD images that our students design. It’s really fun and makes your team stand out at competition, so I would encourage any team with access to something like that (ours is at our home high school’s engineering shop) to be creative with their designs.